The Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste storage project should be completed. Having worked for nine years as a security consultant to the Department of Energy, I visited Las Vegas several times regarding the Yucca Mountain project. I also visited the Waste Isolation Pilot Project near Carlsbad, N.M., that has been successfully burying nuclear waste for more than a decade, a significant proof of the concept.

A 2006 report of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, "Yucca Mountain: The Most Studied Real Estate on the Planet," determined that further delay of the project is imprudent. The report distilled extensive studies consistently showing Yucca Mountain to be a sound site for nuclear waste disposal. Also emphasized were costs of delay and environmental and energy-policy imperatives.

The Senate report states, "Since the federal government defaulted on its statutory and contractual obligation to begin removing used nuclear fuel from reactor sites in 1999, 38 operating commercial nuclear reactors have exceeded their originally available storage space and had to develop costly dry storage facilities." Used nuclear fuel is stranded at 10 shutdown reactor sites. At seven shutdown reactor sites in six states between $2 million and $4 million per site is spent each year simply to store the used fuel that has yet to be removed. As of 2006, nuclear waste was temporarily stored at more than 100 locations in 39 states, including New Jersey.

Federal law obligates the U.S. government to address this problem. In fact, in December 2008, prior to the president's gift of closure to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the secretary of energy recommended expansion of Yucca, and a second repository.

The waste of more than 8.6 billion taxpayer dollars, including utility-industry fees paid, is unconscionable. Las Vegas has benefited enormously from Yucca Mountain, and the NIMBY position at this point is supremely hypocritical. Yucca doesn't inhibit Las Vegas growth, lack of water does. Nuclear Regulatory commission licensing should go forward, as the courts recently ordered.


Cape May Court House